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The Akron Fellowship is planning on putting on their own Feast of Tabernacles for 2001. If you would be interested in attending an interactive Feast site, we would like to hear from you as soon as possible so plans can be made.
If you are interested please contact Ed Schneider at firstname.lastname@example.org or Will Blair at email@example.com or write to Akron Fellowship P.O. Box 5300, Akron, Ohio 44334. web site: http://members.truepath.com/akron_fellowship
— Will Blair
The Akron Fellowship, an interdependent Church of God, invites everyone to attend Sabbath services on January 20, 2001 at St. Thomas Hospital, 20 Olive Street, Akron, Ohio. Norman Edwards will be speaking on “Working with Other Believers”.
Services are from 12 p.m. to 2 p.m. with a potluck meal to follow. For more information, including maps, see: members.truepath.com/akron_fellowship or call Bill Ambrose at 330-335-0317 or contact Will Blair by e-mail at Will_Blair@excite.com
I would like to help establish a Church of God Musicians Users Group to share music information and to promote church music writing and musical performance. There is much talent in the Church, and we hope this Users Group will help Church musicians be better and broaden their base.
I am planning to set up a conference telephone call on a Sunday late in December to start it off. The following individuals are asked to join the conference call: Mark Graham, Barri Armitage, Sharon See, Robin Todd, and George King. These individuals have all written and produced good quality Christian music. Other musicians are invited to participate.
— Richard C. Nickels
Giving & Sharing
3316 Alberta Drive, Gillette, WY 82718
The Church of God, Berean Fellowship in Southern Wisconsin will sponsor a full week spring Passover festival, 2001. Services will be held daily (usually evenings) and on Sabbaths. We will accommodate a variety of Passover celebrations, including early 14th, late 14th and 15th of Aviv, simple bread-wine celebrations as well as a variety of Seders. All services are interactive, including the Passover celebrations.
Accommodations for those coming from out of town can be made in local members
homes as well as local rental homes, hotels, etc. You will be our guests and
we will do what we can to hold down expenses. We did this last year and the
experience was wonderful. You can contact our web site at http://www.geocities.com/Berean_Fellowship
e-mail at firstname.lastname@example.org, or call us at 262-567-6488.
— John Merritt
“Don’t fence me in”
United Christian Ministries has a series of 38 audio tapes covering the entire
book of Romans. They have another series of 28 tapes covering all of Hebrews.
Please feel free to request them. They are sent four tapes at a time along with
a study guide. Contact United Christian Ministries, PO Box 361725, Hoover, AL
35236; Telephone 888-985-9066; e-mail:
— Peggy Wooten
This story seems almost beyond belief, but serves as a wonderful lesson showing how people can get incredibly caught up in church organizations. A group of Mormons led by Laurence and June Hoins spent seven years researching the biblical Anti-Christ and False Prophet, and concluded that “two senior Mormon Apostles matched the physical and other descriptions”.
They took this information to their church leaders and were surprised that they “ignored our very detailed summary of the evidence”. They were further shocked when they were brought to a church trial and disfellowshipped, by Mormon leaders who had not read their book, and whom would not tell them why they were being excommunicated, nor would they tell them the “secret” rules for excommunication. Even worse, many of the Hoins’ children, all Mormons, would no longer speak to them and some actually wrote denunciations of them.
The Hoins’ answer to this was a multi-step process which essentially amounts to suing the Mormon Church for $80 million per individual who was excommunicated from the church. The Mormon teaching is that members in good standing become gods and goddesses in the after life and that the Mormon church’s unjust removal of that privilege ought to be worth at least $80 million. The suit also seeks a revealing of secret internal rules and economic and political plans.
Many Church of God members have experienced cases where truth and justice apparently seem a whole lot less important than the immediate financial welfare of their organization. They have also experienced friends and relatives refusing to talk to them because they “left the church”.
The Mormon church teaches tithing and is more autocratic and more wealthy than the WCG ever was. Yet, in all of this, there is still a lot of truth of the Bible taught and people benefit greatly from that. Maybe the Eternal has raised up the Hoins to wake up this corrupt church organization. On the other hand, it may be a lot better if they would simply realize that Christ is the one who will judge our eternal destiny. This author has sent them a copy of How Does the Eternal Govern Through Humans? in the hopes that some will realize that a bunch of men sitting in a fancy church judgment hall do not determine anyone’s eternal future.
Members of Church of God groups might consider that it is a great blessing that the WCG has broken up into many little groups, none of which can reasonably make the claim that they are the “one true Church” and all others are false. The Mormons, Jehovah’s Witnesses and many other organizations that also claim to be the “one true Church” still continue to deceive millions—even after they are cast out of such organizations.
To find out more about the Hoins’ lawsuit, see this web-site: http://www.angelfire.com/nt/metatron
To find out more about the errors and falsity of Mormonism, see: http://www.LDS-mormon.com
A website of 65 different Mormon-related sites, some pro but most con, may be found at: http://nav.webring.yahoo.com/hub?ring=lds
Anyone interested in studying some of the various Church of God web-sites will probably find this one helpful: http://www.coglinks.org
Representatives of the United Church of God, an International Association and the Church of God, a Christian Fellowship met together for meetings on August 14-15 and November 19-20. The next meeting is planned for May, 2001. The meetings were held “with the focus on developing specific, practical ways for the two organizations to draw closer and work together.”
This appears to be a welcome change in an environment where brethren have sometimes been persecuted by one organization for working with another. The UCG-IA’s report on the meetings stated that “campers and staff members from both churches have often participated together in summer camps, congregations and members often combine in some church areas for social and educational activities, and ministers have conducted funerals, weddings, baptisms and anointings for members in the other church. This type of mutual cooperation is encouraged to continue and expand.”
The UCG-IA’s report went on to say that “Additional ideas being submitted to the councils by the task forces include coordinating certain Feast sites and activities, sharing literature and articles, working on cross-over ministerial speaking opportunities, and extending invitations to attend each others’ board/council meetings and ministerial conferences.”
The report acknowledged that the largest barrier to reconciliation is resolving the hurts of the past. While the report did not spell out exactly what those hurts were, UCG-IA and COGCF members have indicated that many revolve around disfellowshipments and shunning that occurred during the years of 1993 to 1995.
Most of the members of the COGCF were once part of the Global Church of God, which began in 1993. Most of the people who went to the GCG were disfellowshipped by their WCG ministers and shunned by their WCG brethren.
Hundreds of WCG ministers and tens of thousands of members left the WCG to form the UCG-IA in 1995—many the very same ones who disfellowshipped and shunned the GCG members. But on the other hand the GCG leadership for months did not acknowledge the existence of the UCG-IA, and then began to criticize it for its “voting and unbiblical form of government”.
The extent of these hurts vary greatly from one area to the next. In some cases, the ministry and members of different groups got along just fine, in other cases they were always at odds. The UCG report mentioned the need to follow “the biblical instructions regarding peace making, conflict resolution, and forgiveness and endeavoring to dwell together in unity.” It did not name any specific scriptures and stopped short of any kind of apology to members for disfellowshipment and shunning.
There was no stated plan to merge the two church organizations or open up the talks to members of other groups. There was also no mention of the problem of ministerial authority: How can one minister claim the authority of God to command a member to do something, when that member could walk across town to a different, but recognized-as-genuine “Church of God” group and find that the minister there commands no such thing? Nevertheless, these talks are an encouraging thing when many church groups seem to be closing their doors to others, rather than opening them.
More information about these meetings may be found at:
— Norman Edwards
We are occasionally asked if we have any information on what is going on in the Church of God organization started when David Hulme split from the United Church of God. This particular group has been relatively quiet, as they apparently do not allow their members to interact with other groups much.
Nevertheless, their web-site is kept up to date and contains quite a bit of information on their activities.
From the sound of their November 30, 2000 “weekly update”, his “outreach” is almost totally on the Internet, and his main plans for future outreach are to expand the material on the Internet. Here’s a brief excerpt:
This week I am able to give a statistical update on some of the Church’s activities in the U.S. Over the past year to the end of November, income from all sources has increased by 7.1%. Within that increase the first tithe account is up 7.4%, holyday offerings up 1.4%, festival tithe up 31.5%, and church assistance fund/third tithe up 16.5%. We can all be grateful that God has blessed His people with such abundance and that His Spirit in them inspires such generosity.
As far as numbers of people on the U.S. file, we have approximately 7500 individual subscribers to Vision, more than double last year at this time, and a little over 1100 [adult, baptised] members.
Attendance at the Feast around the world this year was in excess of 2700 [including children]. Again we can be grateful for the faithful and pleasantly surprised at the scope of the Work of the Church and its geographic spread so early in its development. As you will see from the just mailed November Church of God News, the Feast was observed at 18 locations (15 of them outside the U.S.)
Herbert Armstrong is referenced frequently in other letters, especially when it comes time to ask members to give more money. The Vision magazine is quite well done, but its circulation of 7,500 is no bigger than the combined circulation of three or four small independent publications done at one tenth the cost. Nevertheless, we can be thankful that some people are learning Bible truth through the efforts of this church organization. The most difficult fact is that they pretend to be the only “Church of God”. Their “who we are” page states:
The Church of God, based in Pasadena, California, traces its antecedents to Sabbatarian roots in 17th-century Europe, and before that to the first-century Christian church at Jerusalem. Accordingly the Church endeavors to uphold the original practice and teachings of Jesus Christ and His followers.
Those interested in gaining more information can access: http://www.church-of-god.org/members
At this site you will be asked for a user name and password, type “member” and “access” without the quotes. (You are not trespassing, the note inside says that it is “not private information, simply of less interest to those unfamiliar with the beliefs and practices of the Church.”)
— Pam Dewey & Norman Edwards
Those interested in studying the teachings of the Worldwide Church of God and Herbert Armstrong may find this website useful:
A set of 298 letters from the Personal Correspondence Department (PCD) is available. These were the “short answer” generic letters sent out in answer to typical questions from the public and church members. The compiler notes that these were the versions sent out after Joe Sr. took office, but most appear to be pretty early on, and thus might be expected to have had little change, if any, from what they were like under HWA. http://www.hoselton.net/religion/hwa/pcd
This same site also has all of the HWA co-worker letters, in a very convenient layout to find the one you might be interested in. http://www.hoselton.net/religion/hwa/coworker
And it has the 58 lesson Correspondence Course: http://www.hoselton.net/religion/hwa/bcc
Also, most of the main HWA booklets, including the 1956 version of 1975 in Prophecy are available: http://www.hoselton.net/religion/hwa/booklets
— Pam Dewey
I have had reason to do some further research on the underpinnings of the group that will now be using the Big Sandy Campus, Bill Gothard and his Institute in Basic Life Principles. The internet is loaded with sites both pros and cons about this authoritarian guru. It would appear he has invented a system that is in some ways more legalistic and dictatorial than the old Worldwide Church of God. Although not teaching Sabbath or Holy Days, he has hopscotched through the Old Testament and picked a diverse group of points to impose on his followers—including the need for circumcision. He has added his own “revelations” on just about every matter from how to make a shopping list to how and when to have sex and how to instill absolute instantaneous obedience in children from infancy.
As with most similar groups, the obscure teaching comes packed along with some pretty sound Biblical teaching—and a heavy dose of personal charisma and salesmanship with a well-thought-out marketing strategy. All of these things tend to obscure the underlying serious error.
To get a real flavor of just what is going on in his world, I have signed up for the Gothard Discussion forum at www.egroups.com. It appears to be made up primarily of former Gothard supporters, but also includes a certain number of current supporters and apologists. Things can get pretty heated. I just received the welcome to the forum this morning, and was startled at just how much it sounds like the Welcome to Likeminds, a discussion group for former (and some still current) WCG members.
One of the major issues that both groups struggle with is simply asking members to talk about doctrine issues openly and logically rather than becoming upset and attacking those with whom they disagree. (When people have believed that they were in the “right group” with all the right doctrines for many years, realizing that some of their teachings are not clear teachings of the Bible can be somewhat unnerving.)
It is also quite evident that both groups are very tied up with the doctrines taught by their founders. Since Gothard taught that circumcision was required, there are great volumes of papers and messages on it, whereas WCG discussions on the subject are often fairly brief. On the other hand, WCG discussions of holy days, calendars and related matters are often voluminous, whereas in the Gothard group they would be minimal. Of course, most people involved in the extensive discussions of a specific doctrine believe they now correctly understand what the Bible teaches on the subject. They also seem largely unconcerned that they have spent little time studying the parts of the Bible that their “founder” spent little time studying.
An important thought to think about: Suppose you found a former Gothard group member that, after studying on his own, came to believe all of the same Bible truth that you believe. But this member is still spending most of his time in discussions with other Gothard group members trying to convince them of his way. Now, suppose that a friend of yours, a new believer, were moving to this member’s town. Would you recommend that he fellowship with the Gothard member? Of would you think he might be better with someone who just teaches Bible truth, rather than someone who always seems to teach everything as either a “support for” or a “correction to” what Bill Gothard said? I hope we can use this story to look at ourselves and see that the ministry of helping people who have left a controlling group is very different than a ministry to teach new believers. It is difficulty to be living in the past and the future at the same time.
— Pam Dewey & Norman Edwards
“My tithe dollars at work!” That thought went through my mind when reading the following article about the auctions of expensive furnishings being sold by the Worldwide Church of God. Well, at least the ten years’ worth of tithe we sent in might have bought one place setting of the nicer china or maybe a pretty old pitcher or painting. My husband, George, was making $1.35 an hour at the time we began tithing in 1965. He was making less than $10,000 a year when we left the WCG.
Actually, the revelations of this incredibly lavish lifestyle in the Pasadena Star News in 1978 is one of the reasons we walked out and never came back. I suppose those who had been at headquarters just sort of took all this for granted. But to those of us out in the boonies, being asked to “tighten our belts” and send in sacrificial offerings so the Gun Lap could be finished, the realization that this was what our belts were tightened to provide was eye-opening. Honestly, I cannot even pronounce the names of a lot of these things—or the names of the artists listed.
— Pam Dewey
By Janette Williams, Staff Writer
Pasadena Star News, Nov 6, 2000
PASADENA—The late evangelist Herbert W. Armstrong, founder of the fundamentalist Worldwide Church of God, enjoyed a lavish lifestyle at his mansion on the Ambassador College campus.
The self-proclaimed apostle of God who preached against medical treatment, celebrating Christmas and makeup and short skirts for women and who believed Jesus would return to reign on the throne of England spent 50 years surrounding himself with the finer things in life.
Now some of them, his Louis XVI giltwood armchairs, Meissen urns, St. Louis crystal, Sevres porcelain, Minton china, a pair of Steinway grand pianos and a silver model of the Mayflower will go under the gavel 6:30 p.m. Monday in Ambassador Auditorium.
The 350 auction lots, expected to fetch from $100 to tens of thousands of dollars each, can be previewed from noon to 6 p.m. Sunday and Monday inside the mansions on the church’s Orange Grove Boulevard property.
“These are terrific things,” said Pasadena auctioneer John Moran, who will conduct the sale. “They’ve had four auctions already, but they were all lesser things. They’ve actually saved all the good things for this sale.”
Armstrong, whose 100,000 adherents worldwide originally donated 10 percent of their annual income to the church, philosophized that Ambassador College students should be educated beyond “narrow subjects and academics,” said Bernard Schnippert, Worldwide Church of God treasurer and director of finance and planning.
“It was part of his belief that students should be helped to appreciate the arts, that it would help build character into them,” Schnippert said. “So the surroundings at that time were in accordance with that philosophy.”
Most of the things haven’t been used for years, Schnippert said.
Moran said he’d been told graduating seniors were once invited to dine with Armstrong off the finest china, linens, silver and crystal.
“It was a setting of high quality and beauty,” Moran said. “I believe they entertained many world-class musicians there, too.”
The church was based in Pasadena from 1947 through 1990 and at its height had an annual budget of $200 million. It provided $5 million annually for Ambassador Auditorium, where performers from Luciano Pavarotti to Count Basie entertained. The famed concert series ended in 1995 when the subsidy was withdrawn.
Armstrong, who died of heart failure in 1986 at age 93, traveled the world, hobnobbing with royalty and heads of state and enjoying his estates in Pasadena, Tucson, Ariz., and Bricket Wood, England.
In the 1970s, however, there was a bitter falling-out with his son, Garner Ted Armstrong, and some members of the church sued officials for misuse of funds. They alleged that about $70 million had been siphoned from church coffers for personal use.
In 1979, the state attorney general appointed an auditor to look at the books, but dropped the case after a law was passed prohibiting the state from becoming involved in church matters. In the years following Armstrong’s death, the church fought to survive through doctrinal conflicts that split the membership, ended mandatory tithing and brought a slew of financial problems.
The 50-acre Ambassador College campus was sold for development to Legacy Partners for an undisclosed amount in January last year, nine years after the college moved its operations to Big Sandy, Texas. Escrow is expected to close in early 2001.
Four mansions on the site including Mayfair, the Tudor revival house in which Armstrong lived will be restored as private homes each costing upward of $2 million.
Schnippert said the gifts Armstrong received from church members and heads of state over the years including an ornamental peacock from Queen Sirikit of Thailand will not be sold. They will be kept for display at a new site the church may soon move to in San Dimas, he said. The auction proceeds will go into the general fund that originally provided the money for Armstrong’s purchases, Schnippert said.
A partial list of the items for sale, from http://www.johnmoran.com included:
Cataloged sale of 350+ high quality items including: two Steinway & Sons grand pianos, one Steinway & Sons Hamburg. 7’custom ordered in Rosewood case serial no 405397, and 6’10” ebony grand serial no 416190-B, Tiffany & Co. fancy grandfather clock, superb French empire center table with classical figural bronze supports & marble top, pair Louis XVI 19th c. giltwood armchairs, 14 chair Chippendale style d/r suite with triple pedestal base table, Baker breakfront bookcase (4 door/32 light) cabinet, fancy English walnut bar cabinet by Beresford & Hicks, pair marble/bronze sculpture stands, antique Japanese lacquer coffer, stupendous dore torchier/floor lamp, Baker sideboard armoire & sofa table, console tables, French bureau plat, bombe chest, desks, approx 70 lots of high quality modern furniture (near new) including d/r sets, sofa groups, uph chairs, b/r suites, etc., 11’×22’ Sarouk oriental rugs.
Fine pair French Louis XVI style figural dore/bronze & green mottled marble urns & covers (26”), Ig rouge marble & gilt oval urn signed F. Barbedienne (French 1810-1892), 2 Ig. bronze figural groups including: dore/bronze chariot/three horse team s. Emmanuel Fremiet (French 1824-1911), hunter & hounds signed DeLabrierre (French 1829-1912). Terrific French ormolu mounted clocks & garniture/candelabrum, modern Patek Philippe table clocks, pair Empire urns on gilt wood pedestals (5’9”) French dore/bronze tantalus case. Paintings including: Eugenio Zampighi (Italian 1859-1944) 24”×20”, Timoleon Lobrichon (German 1831-1914) 34”×47”, Alfred DeBreanski (British 1852-1928) 24”×36”, F.M. Bennett (British 1874-1953), A. Herbert (British 19th Century), Erwin Eichinger (European 1892-1950), G.W. Mote (British 1832-1909) 40”×56”, 3 pc Norman Lloyd (Australian 1897-1985), more.
Monumental pair (36”) antique Sevres covered vases (as lamps) artist signed, Lg Meissen campana form urn, Ig Sevres covered vases, fine pair Royal Vienna cobalt covered urns, over 250 St. Louis crystal stemware (sets of 12-18) in fancy filigree gold & “Excellence” patterns, numerous Baccarat sets, artist signed Waterford, Steuben, decanters & bowls, Royal Worcester covered bowl & plates, pair antique French porcelain ice pails w/liners & lids, Coalport china service “Lady Anne” (94 pc), Minton “Dynasty” (18) 133 pc china service, wonderful set service plates, French porcelain cache pots, more. Silver including: hallmarked silver ship model of the “Mayflower”, pair of sterling/parcel gilt jousting knights in armour, elaborate rococo center bowl, lr. Victorian sterling figural tazza, English hallmarked tea service, candelabrum sets, 149 Wallace sterling flatware “Sir Christopher” pattern for 20, fine quality Asian silver mounted vases, ivory, etc.
Yes, the WCG always taught that members were paying “God’s tithe”, so they had no right to question how it was spent. That means, that in the judgment, the WCG leaders will not be able to say that “the members let us spend the money this way so we did it”—because they clearly claimed that they were spending God’s money His way. Yes, the Eternal is wealthy, but Christ taught us not to be concerned with storing up physical treasures in this life (Matt 6:19-20, 31-34).
Was it God’s idea to write dozens of letters to the brethren over many years commanding them to “sacrifice so the work could be finished”—all the while having a completely different standard for His leaders? Does God send a prophet or an apostle to preach one thing and practice another? If these riches were of God, did the WCG ever try to educate its members as to the “godly reasons” why each item was necessary?
The idea that these riches were necessary to educate students in the finer things of life is largely false. I was a student, faculty member, and employee at that campus during the years of 1977 to 1992 and I never saw or heard of the vast majority of these things. My friends who worked in accounting, insurance and facilities departments said that there were a lot of expensive things that were purchased and warehoused—they never saw the light of day anywhere on campus. Most of the others remained in the executive offices where they were regularly seen by only a few dozen people. Only a few things, such as the pianos, some lamps and some pictures were seen by all.
Were these things necessary to take the gospel to heads of state? Only a very few heads of state ever visited the WCG campus, and I don’t think any ever toured the warehouses or read the fixed-assets statements. The only explanation I have ever understood in regard to why these things were purchased is that some of the WCG leaders liked to go to expensive stores and buy expensive things—they somehow made them feel more important, maybe even closer to God. The concept of buying more expensive quality items that will last and be cheaper in the long-run is good, but the items listed here are mostly expensive impractical items. This history will be forever available to anyone who wants to look into the history of the WCG. Will we who have exited that movement make excuses, or will we acknowledge our error?
Internet users can now purchase the power Bible CD for $19, containing a number of translations, commentaries, dictionaries and topical references, from http://www.powerbible.com
America’s ancient Indians called it the “Cliff of the Strange Writings”. It has been named Phoenician Rock or the Commandment Stone. It is called today Inscription Rock. Located west of Los Lunas, New Mexico, at the base of Mystery Mountain (also called Hidden Mountain) this rock has been raising some eyebrows.
The stone preserves an abbreviated form of the Ten Commandments as written in Exodus 20. The inscription has been translated, and further details and photographs are available at http://members.aol.com/KHoeck777/Comstone.html
Gilford Monrose publishes a free newsletter called In Him. He held a crusade in New York in August, with the “purpose of propagating the gospel in Brooklyn”, which attracted visitors from far and wide. The address to request a free copy is: In Him Newsletter, 203 E 37 Street, Brooklyn, NY 11203.
The Sabbath More Fully [SMF] forum is primarily for the presentation and discussion of Scriptural feasts, the Weekly Sabbath, Annual Sabbaths, and Sabbaths of Years and their relevance for us today. All who are interested are welcome to participate in kindness, respect for other views, with a desire to share as well as learn. Parallel views of intense discussion and research such as Calendar, the Sacred Name, the God-head, etc. are allowed as long as done with a kind attitude of respect. All who are willing to participate may do so. Messianic Jews, Seventh-Day Baptists, Seventh-Day Adventists, SDA, Church of God Seventh-Day, World Wide Church of God, WWCG. All may find something of interest. Feel free to contact Merwin Abbott (list-owner) at email@example.com or visit the web site at http://groups.yahoo.com/group/SabbathMoreFully